Each week at 7:55 a.m. I hit “Send”. My weekly ritual is intended help to my coworkers living in these times. My Teeny Tiny Tuesday Tips range from how to do 4 x 4 deep breathing to how to make mini-habits.
By Thursday it had already been a challenging week. I’d just returned from seeing a friend with early onset dementia. That afternoon while on Zoom (preparing to facilitate a panel on ethics in a pandemic), one person had to hop off—they had COVID. Just minutes before, I’d learned of yet another friend newly diagnosed.
By evening I decided to follow my own advice given just two days prior. I gave myself permission to set my phone aside for 20 minutes and relax in the warm waters of my antique claw foot tub. I drew my bath, dispensing with the scented salts, and slowly settled in as though at a spa where the slightly too hot temperature took a little getting used to.
My body sinks down. I lose track of time. My eyes close. I hear my phone ring across the room. I ignore it. It rings a second time. Hmmm. This could be important. I resist the urge to rush as I sit up and run through the list of possible callers. Sometimes my disabled younger sister calls twice in a row—once to tell me she’s going to leave a shopping list and then a second time to record “detergent, toilet tissue, hand soap….” Or maybe it was a call to say my client with late stage brain cancer could not make our morning call.
Or maybe someone died.
I hop up, wrap myself in the large brown bath towel, put on my glasses, and hurry to my phone. It was my sister. Not my younger one but the one who is 10 years my senior. The one who carried me around like a doll when I was a baby. The one who recently recovered from pneumonia. The one who that very afternoon had been attending to the affairs of the elderly man she’d taken care of three days a week for 15 years.
She was in the emergency room with a blood clot. And shortness of breath. They were worried about her lungs. I was worried about COVID. We speak briefly until she heads off for a CT scan. I check the rules for visitors at the hospital. No more news that night.
Our morning group text includes my brother, her son, and the two grandsons Diane raised. In the midst of our messaging is news on the diagnosis of Donald and Melania Trump. I lie on my bed. A calm centeredness washes over me. Risk of death scenarios feel familiar.
I’ve used the word “pandemic” for months now as millions around the world live with the realities of this virus each day. Some of us are merely inconvenienced. In this moment, the pandemic has never felt more personal.
Self-care matters; so does caring for others. I intend to continue to have an occasional soak in the tub. But for the foreseeable future, I’ll keep my phone nearby.
How are you caring for yourself during these times?
Is there someone who needs your loving care?
How will you balance caring for your self while caring for others